Tag Archives: co-production

Improving the wellbeing of future generations in a resource-rich cash-poor Wales

Prof Tony Bovaird is Director of Governance International, a nonprofit which works throughout Europe on outcome-based public policy and citizen co-production, and Emeritus Professor of Public Management and Governance at Birmingham University.  In his contribution to the The Future of Governance Seminars in July,  Tony shared his strong beliefs on the need for public bodies to get real about the weak state of collaboration in public service commissioning and delivery, the lack of commitment to clear outcomes and the highly variable performance in engagement citizens in co-commissioning, co-design, co-delivery and co-assessment – and how the Well-being of Future Generations Act could help on all these front. In this blog he picks up one aspect of co-production – how Wales can make better use of its hugely valuable resources, even in a period when budgets are severely constrained. 

A photo of Tony Bovaird of Governance InternationalThe Governance workshops in July, hosted by the Wales Audit Office and the Good Practice Exchange, provided an opportunity to reflect on the key issues which will determine how the Well-being of Future Generations Act can be implemented effectively in Wales. A key issue which was raised at different junctures during the discussions was how resources have become much scarcer in the aftermath of the sharp economic recession after 2008 and the continuing financial austerity budgets of the UK government since 2010.


However, I argued at the end of both workshops that this fixation on budgets is misplaced. Yes, cash is scarce in public services. However, this is not the whole of the story –  cash in our budgets represents only one resource.

In particular, Wales is not short of the key resources of capable people, valuable buildings and equipment, or state-of-the-art ICT. However, these are not being used to maximum effect.

Let’s look at the fantastic people resource in Wales. The most common headline statistic is the unemployment rate but the real resource waste is NOT commonly headlined each month – the number of fit, active and willing people who are not registered as being in the workforce.  In 2016, this amounts to just short of a million people in Wales, about half of whom are between 16 – 64 years of age, and the other half are 65+.

The most talked about group amongst these million adults in Wales who are not ‘economically active’ is the over-65 group. We do not, however, talk about the fact that they are the largest group of experienced, educated and, for the most part, fit and healthy people that Wales has ever had on tap, as a ‘reserve army of the under-appreciated’ to do socially and economically useful things to improve their own wellbeing and that of their fellow citizens. No, not at all – we tend rather to talk about them as one of the ‘jaws of doom’, threatening to swallow up all our public sector resources, as they grow older, unhealthier and more needy. Are we actively seeking to help them to maximize their quality of life outcomes, and the way they help others to improve their quality of life? After all, research shows that people who are active, whether seeking the improvement of their own wellbeing or that of others, tend to have far more positive quality of life outcomes. The lack of a co-ordinated approach to this challenge is perhaps the biggest waste of resources in our modern resource-rich, ideas-poor society.


We don’t just underuse our resource of people. Our housing is one third under-occupied (and a high proportion of these homes have only one resident, often lonely and isolated, quite often depressed).

Over 20% of our shops are empty, the floors above shops are very often empty, and our public buildings are often only partly occupied. Our leisure centres are largely empty in the mornings, our community centres are often empty in the afternoons and most of our schools are empty in the evenings, at weekends and during the holiday weeks. Our cars tend to empty all day (parked at work) and our public transport is largely empty most evenings.

Isn’t this inevitable? Aren’t these assets generally owned by someone who sees no reason to make them available to those who would most benefit from using them? Well, let’s start with the public sector – is there really any excuse for under-use of public assets when others are desperately looking for venues for events, rooms for meetings, addresses out of which to run their voluntary organisations, facilities for small scale printing jobs, etc? Let’s shift our gaze to the third sector – is there any justification for giving public grants or contracts to an organization which isn’t prepared to share its underused facilities (and volunteers) with others who are doing similar activities? And in the private sector, why not give tax relief to firms which can show a record of sharing staff and facilities with public or third sector organisations?


However, such approaches are only the tip of the iceberg of what could be done. More important than this organizational sharing is the potential for matching of citizens’ capabilities to potential users in the community. This is the dream ‘app’. For the moment, we only record the ‘needs’ which citizens bring to the public sector – not the capabilities they have and the strengths and resources they are willing to share. This is the greatest challenge facing public bodies as they address the issue of improving wellbeing in Wales.  Of course, co-production with citizens needs co-ordination by public bodies – this will need some spending, but it promises to liberate hugely more resource that it uses up.

In summary, the Wellbeing of Future Generations in Wales depends critically on getting the most out of our existing resources, and ensuring their future development and expansion. A resource-rich country where most of the resources are underused and decent people are wasting huge amounts of time in scrambling over small (and declining) cash budgets and grants is a sign of wrong government priorities. A fundamental rethink of how to match our abundant resources to the needs of the citizens of Wales is an urgent priority.

National Theatre Wales: Living the dream…. and their values

Public service employees in all sectors want to improve their communities. But what can we learn from how the National Theatre Wales is adding value to the arts community? Dyfrig Williams visited Devinda De Silva to find out.

Since starting my working life in the voluntary sector, it’s been clear to me that there’s no shortage of people with public service values providing services. When I facilitated cross-sector networks at Participation Cymru it was abundantly clear that these values aren’t confined to the voluntary sector, and that was reinforced when I attended GovCampCymru, an unconference where people pitch discussion sessions on how technology, new thinking and public services can improve society.

It was through chatting with Kevin Davies of the National Assembly for Wales, who I met at GovCampCymru and who has shared good scrutiny practice with us, that I heard about how the National Theatre Wales (who developed the Big Democracy Project) are embedding their values in their governance and their staff’s job descriptions.

Just visting the National Theatre’s Office is enough to persuade you that the organisation’s approach to community is a little different. Instead of a large theatre, they have a small office in Castle Arcade – right in the heart of the city.

Governance and outreach

Governance isn’t a particularly sexy subject, but the Theatre are managing to make it quite exciting through their work with their TEAM panel. The panel is 10 people from various communities who voluntarily give their time to the Theatre and who have a say in how the organisation is run at every level.

The model is now 6 years old. In the first year they did 13 shows in 13 different locations, where they did intense outreach work. Subsequently people in these areas got involved through the shows. And by looking at theatre in the widest sense, the Theatre managed to involve people who would not have traditionally gone to see a show. For instance theatre wasn’t a big interest in Cardiff’s Somali community, but by sponsoring a small football team, they have a way in to run small workshops with people and to get their feedback on productions.

A few years down the line and the panel is actively shaping the organisation’s strategic direction. Two TEAM panel members attend every board meeting and one permanently sits on the Board, which means that every strategic decision the organisation makes involves people from the community. The panel also feeds into the organisation’s Strategic Plan.

As a small organisation, the TEAM members give a big boost to the capacity of the organisation. Although they only directly employ 18 people, the 10 panel members are trusted to attend events on the organisations behalf and represent them. This has also helped panel members to progress their own careers, and some have got jobs with other arts organisations, got on to a college course or started their own companies. It’s a self-supporting network, where panel members support each other in their projects.

Staff recruitment

The TEAM Panel is also involved in the recruitment of staff, as a panel members sits on the panel of each interview. This helps to make sure that the staff that they employ really buy into the community focused culture of the organisation and its values. The National Theatre Wales’ approach echoes some of what Richard Branson has said about recruiting for values instead of skills.

I’ve already mentioned how the Theatre’s outreach work is built in to their governance, but their outreach and engagement is also a core part of every staff member’s role. Their staff, including the Artistic Director and office staff in Communications and Finance are all expected to work with the community, for example by running surgeries with community groups and freelancers in their areas of expertise. They offer support throughout the year, and their partners are also encouraged to work this way by incorporating a more community-focused approach to their practice when they work with the National Theatre Wales.

Open working, open feedback

And if all that wasn’t enough to show the open nature of National Theatre Wales, they also open up the last dress rehearsal to a specially invited audience from the local community before shows like Candylion go public. They encourage people to give their feedback on social media, as it gives them ideas on how to improve the show and also helps to generate a buzz around it.

Public service organisations are beginning to work in the open, with the Bromford Lab using it as an opportunity to hear about people’s ideas, reduce duplication and to share learning from failure. Leeds Data Mill’s Dashboard also shares what’s happening in Leeds in real time. We’d love to hear from public services in Wales about how you’re working openly, and like the National Theatre Wales, living your values.

The Muni Arts Centre: An asset transfer driven by the community

The closure of the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd prompted an outcry, which in turn prompted a community led bid to take it over. Dyfrig Williams visited the thriving centre to find out how it’s progressed since the asset transfer.

Chris Bolton wrote a post a while back about how annoying your citizens can lead to community action. It’s a thought-provoking read about how closing a community asset can lead to a strong public response, and that public services can build on the strength of this reaction.

It was fascinating to see how that has happened at the Muni Arts Centre, where a grass roots campaign to save the centre and develop it sprung from the decision to close its doors by the council.


The Muni Arts Centre

The Muni Arts Centre

There was a huge outcry when the decision was made to discontinue the Muni Centre from council cultural services. 150 people attended a consultation event on the future of the building in the space of a couple of hours. A number of groups wanted to make sure it stayed open, and a number of companies expressed an interest in making the building a base for their business. Artis Community, Pontypridd Town Council, Cylch Cymreig and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust came together as the Muni Working Group and quickly formed the newly incorporated Muni Arts Centre Limited. They built on their similarities and strengths to develop the bid, which is remarkably similar to the Assets Based Community Development approach on the Nurture Development site that Chris references in his blog.

In terms of building on the strengths within the community, there’s no better place to start than with the board itself. Taking control of a building like the Muni is a huge responsibility, but the Muni’s board members are well placed to do so and to put strong governance processes in place. Jon Huish, a former councillor, has a great understanding of council processes and the public sector. Alun Taylor of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust specialises in governance. Rob Hughes, the Chair of Cylch Cymreig, runs a festival in Ynys-y-Bwl, and Gethin Williams, Chief Executive of the Town Council is also a Solicitor. Wendy York, the Chief Executive of Artis Community was responsible for much of the groundwork, has extensive experience of the arts and strong voluntary sector networks.

The council faced criticism from the community over its initial decision, and the asset transfers it had previously dealt with were on a much smaller scale. They were clear that they wanted to help the process and created an enabling grant fund. They took a risk in choosing to transfer the asset to the community, when a private sector development would have clear commercial benefits. It’s an example of decision making that focuses on the long term, and it’s the kind of approach that public services will have to show has been considered under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

The community

With such a strong board, it would be easy for them to do what many other organisations have done over the years and use their own individual visions as a roadmap for the Muni. But the business case was based on the vision of the 150 people who attended the consultation event. It is rooted in the community, with the Muni as a hub for the regeneration for the wider area and the arts’ place within it.

A photo of the Think Food Life café inside the Muni

The Think Food Life café at the Muni

The café at the Muni is a social enterprise called Think Food Life, which focuses on people’s health and wellbeing by providing nutritional food. It’s the first café in Pontypridd that can cater for specific dietary requirements, and it aims for 80% of its food to come from local sources. There was interest from Merthyr and Valleys Mind to set up an allotment to provide vegetables for the Muni, and the idea was strengthened by the Muni Project veteran’s group, who proposed work on garden land at the Muni with potential support from the allotments society. The Muni has received funding from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant as the recruitment centre used to be next door, which provides opportunities for veterans to take part in the Muni’s work, be it through volunteering or directly in the arts.

A Fit for Life project will also look to connect health and fitness work to the nutritional focus of the café, which shows how the Muni is looking to go beyond a strictly arts focus and be a hub for the entire community. The Muni is also looking at bringing organisations together at a strategic level to enable people to do more for themselves through working with Pontypridd YMCA and the development of the Courthouse, which will support the startup and growth of social enterprise.


This all shows what is possible when projects are based on the passion and talent of the community. The building itself is really impressive, just like the drive and determination of the board and the community members who’ve put in such incredible effort to make the project a success. If you’re looking to transfer an asset to the community, it’s worth asking how can you genuinely work with the community and build on their strengths?

Wisdom Bank

What is the Wisdom Bank and how can an online tool help the people of Torfaen to develop better relationships with each other and public services? Matt Basham of Torfaen County Borough Council tells us more.

Torfaen Wisdom Bank

People know useful stuff.

It’s as true as it is simple.

Everybody has a library of tips, advice, information, let’s call it “Wisdom”, that they carry around in their heads. When we start looking at our local communities in their entirety, and then multiply these information resources by all the people who live there, we are dealing with something really significant and valuable. As someone who works for a local authority, I should have at my fingertips an enormous library of wisdom, which resides within the local residents, communities and businesses. If I could only unlock these resources, I could access information and advice that could deliver huge benefits to society. I could offer support to the vulnerable, advice to the needy, intelligence to local business, help to those who need it most, from a source they trust and respect.

However, society is changing. Modern life is hectic, and we don’t always have time to chat with the people around us. We don’t meet our neighbours as regularly as we once did. We don’t always bump into our friends in the village hall, our community centre, or even our local pub. All too often, we don’t even know our neighbours names.

We’d expect, in this interconnected age, that it would be increasingly easy to share useful, local information online instead. But the reverse seems to be true. There are a number of significant barriers that stop the flow of information between residents, organisations and businesses:

  • The huge size and global nature of the internet makes it increasingly difficult to find information relevant and resonant to our own experience. We are swamped by too much information
  • Potential contributors are frozen out by fear of trolling and cyber bullying. How many informative and helpful videos have you seen posted on YouTube that are greeted by sarcasm, insults and vitriol?
  • The established social media brands are flippant, celebrity obsessed and distant.

Information Sharing on the Wisdom BankIt was with this situation in mind that the Wisdom Bank came about. It seeks to create a local environment, where resources can be created by the community, for the community.

A rigorous safety strategy puts reporting power in the hands of the user. Any reported content, right down to an individual forum response, is immediately suspended pending moderation. This means the cyber bullies and trolls can be weeded out locally. We don’t need to await a policy response from a distant web executive based in Silicon Valley, we can take action locally and immediately.

A new web brand, and intuitive site design encourages community involvement. The Wisdom Bank aims to become recognised as a destination for quality information.

Over time we want the site to work just like a bank, with people ‘depositing’ the knowledge they have to share and ‘withdrawing’ information when they need advice. These knowledge resources aren’t just helpful, they are enormously valuable. They help keep people happy, healthy and secure. They help people find work, cope with stress, or with tough situations. They help local businesses to trade and flourish. So how do we create and maintain useful social connections in the modern world? We have seen the potential of the internet to connect, to bring people together. But to date, no-one as developed something that works in a local context, to provide quality information.

So this is why we need the Wisdom Bank – to create a local online environment, where people are empowered to share their knowledge. In order for our local residents and businesses to engage with the Wisdom Bank, we must build an environment that is fit for their needs.

We worked hard to make the site as safe as we can, and developed a rigorous safety strategy.

We made the Wisdom Bank highly functional, and have developed a site that is clear and easy to use.

Most of all, we made the site welcoming, and have empowered the community to post films and web pages to share their knowledge. We believe that our residents and businesses have important knowledge to share, and we are giving them the tools to achieve this.

As well as posting films and pages, the Wisdom Bank also creates new online networks, based on common interests instead of pre-existing friendships. We give users a variety of communication tools, so they can interact, engage and support each other.

Ultimately, the quality and power of the Wisdom Bank will depend on how our communities engage, and how much they choose to contribute.

As an organisation Torfaen County Borough Council have a strong belief that our residents with respond positively, and create a special and unique resource for the benefit of all.

Visit www.wisdombank.org.uk to explore the potential of this new approach to social media.

The Listening Service. Busting Jargon, Including People and Improving the Tweets | What’s the PONT

Chris Bolton has blogged about Barod CIC’s Whispering Service that was used at our Reshaping Services Shared Learning Seminar. You can find out more in his blog, and you can hear Anne discuss it’s use at our event at 01:18 in the below video.

Mae Chris Bolton wedi blogio amdano Wasanaeth Sibrwd Barod CIC a gafodd ei ddefnyddio yn ein Seminar Dysgu a Rennir ar Ail-lunio Gwasanaethau. Gallwch ffeindio allan mwy yn ei blog ef, a gallwch glywed Anne yn siarad amdano ddefnydd y gwasanaeth yn y digwyddiad 01:18 i mewn i’r fideo isod.

The Listening Service. Busting Jargon, Including People and Improving the Tweets | What’s the PONT.

Re-claiming personal responsibility, re-shaping publicly funded services and finding new ways to work together (or the chicken and egg of change)

Re-shaping services with the Public


Guest blog post by Barod CIC in the lead up to our Re-shaping Services with the Public seminar #ReshapeServices

  • Something goes wrong. We pick up the phone or turn up at a building and expect a public service to sort things out for us.
  • Public services get a demand for a service. They expect to decide what to provide (if anything) and how to provide it.

OK it’s an exaggeration. In Wales, some people and public services are already re-shaping their relationship. The reality is that the relationship between all public services and members of the public needs to change for everyone’s sake.

  • We need to take more responsibility for ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our communities.
  • Public services need to remember they are the servants, not the masters. They need to provide what can only be provided collectively, like street cleaning. They need to support us to lead our lives without taking ownership of our lives.

Like the chicken and egg, both need to change but who needs to make the change first? Usually we hear stories of public services changing and driving forward a changed relationship. Barod’s story started the other way round.

BarodBarod is a workers cooperative. Two of us were expected to rely on public services to help us get into work because we have a learning disability. We tried that. It didn’t work. We were given services to make us ready, but the truth was that we were already ready. We gave up waiting for public services to change. Instead, we took responsibility for ourselves, joined with others who shared our vision and started our own business, Barod (Welsh for ready).

We couldn’t do it all ourselves. We needed support from professionals in publicly funded services. We needed them to listen, find a way to provide what we knew we needed and, most importantly, believe we could succeed.

We could not develop that relationship with most publicly funded services. Some gave us a list of what they would offer – which didn’t match what we needed. With others, the price for getting their help would have been losing control over our lives and Barod’s direction.

We were able to have that relationship with two publicly funded services. Without their support, Barod would have struggled. Neither tried to take us over. Neither paraded us as examples of how great their services are. Both listened. Both worked with us to find solutions. We owe a huge debt to both.  Thanks, Wales Cooperative Centre and Enterprise Mentoring.

Our message to others:

  • Whether you are a chicken or an egg, it’s a good time to just get on a.nd do things differently
  • Public services, be encouraged, there are people making plans and taking responsibility for their own future. Keep your eyes open for them and when you find them, listen to them, believe in them and support them.
  • Members of the public, be encouraged, there are publicly funded services out there who will use their professional skills, contacts and funding to support you to achieve the impossible. You may need to keep looking, but you will find them.  

The Wales Audit Office and Co-production

Re-shaping services with the Public

How does the Wales Audit Office’s work fit in with the co-production agenda in Wales? On Tuesday I attended Working With Not To’s Big North Wales Co-production meet up! to share what we’re doing.


When I started thinking about co-production and audit I immediately started thinking about public service performance. But after we ran a shared learning seminar with the Society of Welsh Treasurers last Friday, it struck me how our finance work is equally tied into co-production. Participation Cymru’s All Wales Network was also taking place down the road, and despite the different subject matters, the Wales Audit Office report on Meeting the Financial Challenges Facing Local Government in Wales linked them together as “ineffective stakeholder engagement means that some councils may not be adequately reflecting the needs, priorities and expectations of their citizens.”

So co-production can help save money by targeting it where it can be used most effectively. But at the event I also pointed out that genuine co-production still needs resources to be successful. We heard a lot at our Land and Asset Transfer Shared Learning Seminar about how assets that had been passed on to town and community councils weren’t viable without the right support.

Council 2025: A vision for local government in Wales

A couple of weeks ago the Auditor General for Wales spoke at the Welsh Local Government Association’s Annual Conference and examined re-organisation of local government. I recommend watching the video below if you haven’t already as he asks some searching questions – where is the debate in Wales about what local government should be about? Where are the models of delivery and enablement that will help us deliver the value and quality that Wales needs?

He also looks at co-production in Welsh local government:

I carried out as you may recall a study on public engagement in local government a couple of years back. That found few practical examples of collaborative forms of engagement. Since then, I’ve seen very little evidence of a shift towards co-production, or as it’s often described, working with and not to.

The Wales We Want

Co-production is also a theme in the mid-term report of the Future Generations Bill. The bill presents a big challenge to public services, including the Wales Audit Office. The only way that we can audit in a way that’s meaningful and proportionate is by working with councils to co-produce a solution. We’ve already started doing that by using feedback from the Future Generation Bill Shared Learning Seminar in the work that Mike Palmer is leading on, and there will be more chances for public services to let us know how audit can be effective.

So what is the Good Practice Exchange doing to help?

In order to help public service organisations to get to grips with this, we’re holding a free seminar on Re-shaping Services with the Public. We’re practicing what we preach about working in partnership, and the event will be run in collaboration with Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Wales Public Service 2025, 1000 Lives Improvement Service, Wales Co-operative Centre and Good Practice Wales.

Sketch notes for the Wales Audit Office and co-production presentation / Nodiadau Braslun ar gyfer cyflwyniad Cydgynhyrchu a Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru

Sketch notes for the Wales Audit Office and co-production presentation

The theme of the event has obviously struck a chord, as next week’s event in Cardiff is fully booked, but there are still some places available for September’s event in North Wales.

The emphasis of the seminar is going to be on sharing practical experiences of how different relationships can help re-shape public services to deliver better outcomes. We’ll be using the #ReshapeServices hashtag on the day if you’d like to follow it on Twitter, and we’d love to hear from you about what’s working in your area too.


We Need to Change the System First

Photo of Simon Pickthall

Simon Pickthall

Guest blog from Simon Pickthall, Vanguard, in the lead up to our Re-Shaping Services with the Public event #ReshapeServices

Most frontline people who work in the public services think of co-production as a positive step.  However, time and time again, I meet people who are working in this way under the radar, or undertaking exciting and innovative work despite the system within which they work. Naturally, this constrains how effective they can be.

My key learning has been that unless you change the system within which people work first, co-production will always face an uphill battle.

For example, I have had the privilege to work with many inspiring people in social care. As always they were committed to working with individuals who needed support. However, they were constrained and, in some cases prevented, from providing this support in a co-productive way by the system within which they worked.

By spending time following work through the system from the perspective of the people receiving help, in the space of just six days they had uncovered the underlying problems in the system.  They discovered multiple assessments that lost the person’s story, performance indicators driving dysfunctional behaviour, and multiple referrals between professionals leading to enormous quantities of bureaucracy, including some professionals who needed to refer to themselves!

However, the fundamental underlying issue that they learned, is the system is underpinned by the assumption that we need to provide ‘services’ to citizens. As the frontline have a menu of services they could offer, these dedicated individuals found themselves assessing the citizen to fit into this menu. The system also treats each request for help as a single transaction, without being in a position to understand what really matters to the individual and helping them achieve this. This, in turn, leads to enormous numbers of re-referrals, as individuals return as what matters to them has not been achieved. The assumption behind the design of the system is that standardisation and menus are necessary to control the budget – in fact, by constricting the ability of the system to absorb variety, and help people achieve what matters to them, costs continue to rise. This is further exacerbated by delivering services to people, rather than working with them.

Once they realised this, they were in a position to challenge the assumptions that had led to the design of the current system. They were, therefore, very keen to try something different. This different approach started with having a good conversation with the citizen. Rather than turn up with an assessment recording tool, they just asked variations of “What would a good life look like to you?”. This question produced completely different answers. Citizens simply said things like: “I would like to go shopping”, and “I would like to continue to dress smartly”. Without the constraint of a menu of services, the social workers and health professionals were able to think creatively about how to solve these problems with the individual, not just attempt to solve the problem for them.

Creating a system that helps citizens articulate what a good life looks like to them, and co-producing methods to help them achieve their good life, removes the power imbalance between citizen and state. In addition, it saves money.

Below are some of the results achieved by working in this way in social care:

  • 28% reduction in residential and nursing care placements, together with a reduction in domicillary care hours – average care packages reduced from 12 hours to 9.7 hours per week.
  • 46% reduction in contacts into Social Services.
  • Underspent community care budget (cost avoidance of £1.5 million in 2013-2014).
  • 30% reduction in assessments.

Rationing through menu driven standardisation drives in costs, and prevents committed individuals embracing co-production. The message is that we need to help the frontline workers in the public sector build relationships, not give them menus.  A recent report published by Locality and Vanguard, demonstrates that over £16 billion of savings can be made across the public sector if we moved to these different principles. The report can be accessed here: ‘Saving money by doing the right thing: why ‘local by default’ must replace ‘diseconomies of scale’

This can only be done, by intervening in the public sector systems directly. Once the current principles behind the design and management of work are understood, they can be challenged and changed. From this a new system can be created enabling co-production to thrive and reduce costs.

As such, the starting point is to spend time understanding how and why the current system makes co-production so difficult, rather than simply bolting on coproduction and hoping for the best.

Change Thinking – Change Lives.

Simon Pickthall worked in the public sector in Wales for many years before forming Vanguard Consulting Wales.  He has been fortunate to have worked with many leaders in Wales to help them understand their organisations using the Vanguard Method –  and improve them as a consequence.  Simon was privileged enough to work on the Munro Review of Child Protection, and is committed to helping the public, private and third sectors deliver social justicesimon.pickthall@vanguardwales.co.uk

The search for practical examples of ‘co-production’

Increasingly, we talk about designing and delivering services through ‘co-production’. But what does this mean in practical terms? We’ve been working with a range of partners to develop an event to provide clear examples of good practice in ‘co-production’.

Co-production is about changing the relationship between those who deliver and those who use services. It is about re-shaping how you design, plan and deliver services, but doing this alongside members of the public.

Sometimes, public services will steam ahead with developing new services and land up with a list of formal services into which they shoehorn the public. Members of the public are frustrated that their local authority offers services that are seen as wasteful and don’t offer simple things that they truly need. Many public services are still delivered from the perspective of single service deliverers. The leads to citizens experiencing multiple, fragmented approaches that can result in:

  • Contradictory and conflicting interventions;
  • Poor outcomes for the service user; and
  • A waste of valuable resources and poor value for money.

For anyone interested in other practical good practice examples of co-production, you could start with these two useful collections of case studies:

We searched for specific examples of organisations working closely with the public to develop services that they actually need. Although the Cardiff event is fully booked (with places available in North Wales), you will be able to find all these good practice presentations on our website after the event.

Professor Tony Bovaird, Birmingham University, is our first speaker, who will look at practical examples of co-producing public outcomes that really matter:

We then found four great workshops:

  • Kerrine Phillips, Cardiff Third Sector Council, will talk about the Co-Creating Healthy Change portfolio of projects;
  • Simon Pickthall, Vanguard, will talk about practical examples of radically re-shaping services at a locality level;
  • Sally Church, Torfaen Leisure Trust and Jon Argent, GLL, will give a practical example of the role social enterprises can play in re-shaping services with the public; and
  • Alan Armstrong, Barod CIC, will run a practical workshop looking at power, control and clear information while working with the public.

Barod CIC will also be demonstrating a really practical example of how to work with the public on changing services – the Whispering Service. Barod specialise in making information easier to understand, and making meetings and events more inclusive. The Whispering Service is a simultaneous translation from “conference speak” into clear, everyday words. How do you ‘co-produce’ services with the public when you work with language and processes some may not understand?

For the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing a few blogs from these speakers, sharing their own experiences. We’ll also be sharing a whole bunch of links to other useful websites, case studies and resources on Twitter #ReshapeServices. You can also follow this hashtag to get involved in the conversation during our Re-Shaping Services with the Public seminar.